History (Paludia Supplement)
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The Primordial age
The beginning of sentient life in Paludia began with the evolution of the lizardfolk. Contrary to common thought, lizardfolk are not related to humans, nor are they the product of a mage's spells; rather, they evolved naturally from reptiles. During this time, the very earliest lizardfolk came into being. They were sentient, but had no civilization of any sort. They had not mastered the use of tools, nor fire, nor metalworking. This age took place millions of years ago, long before humanity had evolved into a recognizable form.
The Archaic age
During this time, the very earliest wooden spears and tools began to be used. Simple fishing spears made of wood and basic skills such as language came into being during this time. However, the use of effective stone tools still eluded the lizardfolk. An important development during this time was the creation of a language for the lizardfolk, based on the draconic dialects. At this time, many dragons wandered around Paludia, and contact between them and the lizardfolk was not at all uncommon. With no external threats and no humans for literally thousands of miles, early lizardfolk culture grew in a manner that was distinct from that of most other sentient races. Humanity was still not fully evolved during this time.
The Stone age
The lizardfolk have existed far longer than humans, and their development during their stone age is testament to this fact. Of course, the human stone, bronze, and early iron ages all started and ended before the lizardfolk were even half through their stone age. This can be attributed to the frighteningly fast evolutionary development of humanity. For the lizardfolk, the stone age meant the innovations of cutting tools made of flint, feldspar, and obsidian, their first ceremonial burials, and the emergence of the shamans.
The Bronze age
Some lizardfolk tribes haven't even reached this stage of development, but Paludia as a whole entered the bronze age many thousands of years ago, when native copper deposits were extracted from the foothills of some of Paludia's mountain chains. It is said that the dragons had to teach the lizardfolk the secrets of metalworking, as the appearance of copper forging occurred suddenly and without any traceable technological reason. Whatever the cause, the introduction of metals into Paludian society had a massive impact. While agriculture didn't take off like it had done for humanity, the development of bronze tools and weapons led to an increase in warfare and bloodshed, which in turn led to the advent of tightly-knit tribes based along a line of warrior-chiefs.
The Iron age
Iron is a rare resource in Paludia. It is also an impracticable one; the climate of Paludia is constantly damp, and tools made out of iron will rust very quickly in most parts of the land. Nevertheless, iron is easier to work with than bronze, and although it is rare, it is not nearly as rare as bronze in Paludia, which can only be found in scant surface deposits and a very few mines. Despite the rusting, the iron tools and weapons made life even more dangerous in Paludia, and even poorer tribes now armed themselves with deadly weapons. Of course, rusted iron implements proved to be unreliable at best, and magic, when it could be used, usually dominated the battlefield. Of course, it couldn't be used very often; magic was used in fewer than 10% of major engagements during the iron age. A chief with command of a couple of mages could control several tribes of the same size as his tribe, assuming the other tribes had no magic at all.
The age of the First King
During the late iron age, a great chief emerged. He made a deal with a group of mages who called themselves the sauromancers. These mages of death, life, and rebirth lived a reclusive life in the wilderness, and sent new recruits through a grueling series of tests. The deal was that the chief's forces and the sauromancers would rule Paludia together; the chief would rule the living Paludians, while the sauromancers would rule the dead. The cunning of the chief was great, and his strategic mind was even greater. To build his realm, he would need three things in addition to the sauromancers' help: he needed a large amount of iron and labor to work it, the cooperation of conquered vassals, and the framework of a religious institution. First, he attacked and conquered a large group of Torvadian lizardfolk, and put them to work in iron mines. Those who wanted to be free from a life of toil could serve as slave warriors in his army. Second, he obtained help from a dragon named Paludas who taught the sauromancers new spells, as well as how to make rust-resistant weaponry. Third, he recruited warriors from the tribes he conquered, rather than simply taking tribute or sacking the villages. Finally, the chief was able to create a religious hierarchy with him at its head. The strategy was so effective that he could claim enough land, population, and resources to crown himself king of the realm. He named the lands under his control after the dragon who helped him, thus giving the lands the name of Paludia. Effectively, the king was an emperor, as he ruled over many lands other than his own, while still keeping local chiefs in a position of limited power. The king's first act after proclaiming his lands a kingdom was to construct a capital city whose name is lost to history, but it was built on a hill, or Tel, in the swamp, so it was come to be known as the Tel City. The age of the first king saw many large stone temples built by the lizardfolk. Each temple was operated by a high priest, several priests beneath him, and a harem of hierodules for the high priest. The temples were the sites with which first king was able to maintain control over the land, as they were the center of politics, art, music, magic, religion, and every other element which constitutes culture. There were exactly 13 great temples built; 12 of them were located near Paludia's villages, and one was located in the capital. During this time, at the Sauromancers' urgings, the first large-scale tournaments were held, consisting of the champions from local village tournaments meeting in the great arena of the capital city. While such a centralized tournament no longer exists, it is still the case that the largest town in a region still holds games in which the town's best fighters and those of villages from the surrounding countryside go to determine who is strongest among them.
The Old Kingdom
But the reign of the first king could not last forever. As he grew older, he realized that plans would have to be made for his departure and the transfer of power from him to one of his many sons. He also made plans for his possible return some day. He had tombs made for himself, his consorts, and his high priests hewn into a distant mountain range in an obscure section of Paludia. The tombs were filled with treasure and outfitted with traps, and when the king died, he was sealed up in the tombs, along with all of his now-dead consorts. Future kings would be interred in these tombs as long as the kingdom survived. As time went by, the number of structures for the dead would grow in number until they became known as the city of tombs. The heir of the old kingdom became the second king, and he built a number of temples in the Tel City, in addition to the great temple already present. These temples came to define the city in such a way that historians call this phase of the city the Temple city. At its peak, the old kingdom covered almost a quarter of what is today called Paludia.
The Fall of the Old Kingdom
Great though it was, the Kingdom couldn't last forever. Corrupt kings, rebellious chiefs, attacks by dragons seeking to loot the weakened kingdom, and the sudden disappearance of the sauromancers, led to the fall of the state. To be sure, the Old Kingdom had always rested on shaky ground; the chiefs all wanted to control their own lands, corrupt kings didn't do enough to stop the rebels, and few lizardfolk felt any loyalty to a strong, central state unless such loyalty could be gained by force of arms. It is fair to say that the turning point was the disappearance of the sauromancers; without the magic of these powerful wizards, the state would probably have been doomed even in the best of times. The reason behind sauromancers' flight is unknown; it's possible that they knew of the coming draconic onslaught and, being survivors at heart, had no desire to take great losses fighting them, even if they could win.
The most immediate reason for the fall of the old kingdom was an attack by a horde of hundreds of dragons. In their arrogance, a swarm of primarily green and black dragons attacked the capital without warning or provocation, seeking to claim the treasures of the temples for themselves. Without the magic of the sauromancers to aid them, the forces guarding the Tel City were quickly overcome and the settlement fell in a day. Escaping soldiers from the capital went to the vassal chiefs for aid, but without the threat of force to back up claims of rulership, the chiefs didn't lend a single warrior, and celebrated the fall of the hated city. It's also important to know that few of the chiefs had the will to face dragons and even fewer wanted to make draconic enemies (this is a fair point for those chiefs who did not want to run the risk of having their village destroyed by a dragon or two.)
The fall of the Old Kingdom ended the construction of great temples, and it also led to the resumption of endemic warfare in the kingdom's former lands. The resumption of such warfare led to the loss of the ability to construct such temples, and the temples which still operate at present day do so only with support from local chiefs, and these temples often operate at partial capacity. Only one great temple still operates, and many smaller ones which were built by the old kingdom don't work as well as they used to.
The Intermediate Age
During the intermediate age, several event occurred. First, the climate of Paludia became hotter and wetter than it had ever been before, and this climate has stayed with Paludia to this day. This has led to the growth of even more jungles and swamps, and less of the land is open and easy to build on. Many of the jungle-cut paths which were eked out during the Old Kingdom have disappeared completely. Trade and commerce became harder, and the level of isolation in Paludia only kept increasing. This isolation led to the development of more distinct, and yet convoluted cultural practices, as well as promoted Paludia as a place where dark magic could be practiced without interference. This lack of culture, combined with the growth of jungles and swamps has led Paludia to be called "The Miasma", a reputation it gained during this time. The second event that occurred marked the end of the early intermediate age and began the middle intermediate age; this event was nothing less than the return of the sauromancers. Their return prompted many chief to hire their services out, and soon, deadly magic was raining down all over Paludia again. The sauromancers often fought each other as they agreed to fight for opposing chiefs, and each side was desperate to get an advantage over the other. To that end, the late intermediate age began with the creation of various swamp creatures, such as the bog beast, or the horned serpent. This final epoch of the intermediate age was appropriately called the "era of teratogeny", which means the formation of monsters.
The Rise of New Kings
Eventually, the chaos had to stop; sooner or later, some rulers would inevitably have to determine the strategies and survival skills needed to stay in power, maintain a loyal populace, and even conquer some weaker neighbors. The end of the intermediate age came when some lizardfolk adventurers found some ancient stone tablets with carvings in an old temple. The carvings detailed the power and stature of the First King. When the adventurers returned the tablets to the village they were sent from, the chief immediately had the tablets sent to the nearby great temple; one of the few still in operation. Although the temple was in ruins (and no longer operates in the present day), a loyal following of priests still maintained the site, and still knew how to read the tablets; once translated, the tablets revealed a system of interlocking loyalties. This meant that one could be a high king, but the loyalty of other tribes could be taken through a system of alliances and vassalage rather than brute force. The problem with the Old Kingdom was that this strategy was overextended, and the nature of the lizardfolk was that of lust for conquest; once a lizardfolk chief has tasted conquest, he will want more and more of it. What the tablets ultimately entailed, however, was the possibility of alliances between similar tribes. Since the lizardfolk respected the legacy of the Old Kingdom, they were open to the idea of alliances between similar tribes. This practice was reinforced by the emerging practice of intermarriage between tribes. With a number of alliances starting to form, it became harder for wars to start, as alliances made any attack on a single village much harder. Of course, not every village joined an alliance, but most of the more important lizardfolk towns joined some form of alliance or at the very least, were situated in a place where the territory of an alliance could block potential enemies from passing through. At the top of these alliances were self-named kings; leaders who controlled the largest town in an alliance, or else was the patriarch of a series of tribes led by his sons. While wars and violence are still endemic in Paludia, the Rise of the New Kings ensured that, at least in some areas, there would be a modicum of order.
The Age of Exchange
After many hundreds of years of new kingdoms, something happened to Paludia; it made contact with humanity. At first, only the most intrepid of rangers and the most inquisitive of mages and warriors dared to explore the Paludian jungles and swamps. Over time, tales of magical artifacts, of intrigue and mystery, and rumors of great wealth hidden in the landscape drew adventurers to Paludia in droves. This was known as the first wave of adventurers; a large number of adventurers, fortune-seekers, eccentrics, and in some cases, rogues, who all wanted to explore a new land and grow wealthy off of it. Most of the adventurers expected to find wealth everywhere, with villages filled with exotic golden artifacts, with mounds of jewels in hidden in every cave, and with marble temples stuffed with the fortunes of times long past. The reality, however, never lived up to the expectation. The first wave of adventurers abruptly ended when a certain part of adventurers became trapped in a deep cave. The party had hired lizardfolk guides and mercenaries, and relations between the party and the hired help were never good. When the party was trapped, the food ran out quickly. The exact details were unknown at the time, but it was assumed that the hired lizardfolk had eaten the party, as the lizardfolk survived while the adventurers were nowhere to be found. In truth, the party had escaped using a series of dimension door spells, and didn't bring their guides along. The reality of the situation was that the party had abandoned the lizardfolk the starve to death, and as such, the party was the antagonistic faction in the incident. Thanks to bias and rumor-mongering, the story was quickly changed so that the lizardfolk were said to have eaten the party they were paid to guide. The rumor quickly spread, and the lizardfolk gained a reputation for being untrustworthy killers who would consume any adventuring party they met. While it was true that some lizardfolk were man-eating killers, most were not, and still aren't.
The first wave ended with prejudice and hatred being developed, yet, in spite of that, one positive thing occurred; this was the mapping and charting of much of Paludia. It took thirty years for humanity to return in significant numbers, and when it did, it came as the second wave of adventurers. These parties weren't the untamed fortune-seekers who came before them; instead, they were usually hired by various rich merchants, nobles, or other important figures who sought to find a way to profit off of Paludia. Instead of trying to make money by finding gold in a hidden temple, these humans made money by selling weapons, metals, and various goods to the lizardfolk tribes. While most lizardfolk were and still are too poor to afford human goods, the chiefs and their families were, and to this day still are, avid consumers of human luxuries. In return, the lizardfolk traded, and still trade various goods from their own land, including rare herbs (medicinal and magical), wild honey, pitch gathered from the swamp, salt from certain marshes, and, among other goods, wooden carvings. This trade was unfocused at first, and usually limited to whatever villages and towns could be reached by ship. But few Paludian settlements are located near good harbors, and the rivers are often too narrow for the large human trade vessels to get through. Eventually, one town happened to be located in the right place at the right time, and became very rich because of it.
The Rise of Lixus
Lixus was originally a small crested lizardfolk fishing village located in an estuary near a salt marsh. For many years, it was isolated from the outside world. This was, at first, a good thing, as the salt marsh's tough terrain hindered many attacks which would have otherwise damaged the village. The location on the estuary was another good thing for the town as estuaries are generally rich fishing grounds. As time went by, the village grew to the limit of its resources, and like so many other successful lizardfolk settlements, the excess population split off and settled a new village several kilometers away. After the settlers left, the population of Lixus rapidly rose again, and a new group of settlers had to split. This happened a number of times, and within a century, the area was filled with settlements, and Lixus was the largest of them. This pattern of settlement had happened before; a well-located central town with many related break-away villages in which the central town's population was at least three times the population of any one village in the surrounding area. The pattern had been expected, and this was by no means considered unusual. The unexpected event, however, came not from within the villages or town, but rather, from the outside world.
The fact that Lixus is located near the near and next to a river makes it easily accessible to ships. Of course, the lizardfolk didn't consider that, which is why it was all the more surprising when a small ship came sailing in from an unknown human nation. The ship contained a small group of explorers who had been commissioned to find a good harbor from which to conduct trade. After paying tribute to the chief of Lixus, the explorer and his men set out to survey the land and determine how deep the water in the harbor was. As it turned out, the harbor was ideal for ships of even the largest size. The explorer than offered to give the chief a larger sum of gold in tribute if he would allow trade between his nation and Lixus. Not realizing what this meant, the chief agreed. Soon, several large ships came in to the harbor. The ships came with merchants offering to sell various practical and luxury goods to the lizardfolk of Lixus. After quickly saturating the market for goods in the town, the merchants spread out, searching the other villages for buyers. As expected, each village was too poor to afford many goods, but it was clear that the desire for the items was there. To take advantage of this situation, the chiefs of Lixus and its surrounding villages were offered a deal by the merchants; that Lixus and its surrounding area be made into a "free mercantile realm" (where merchants could buy and sell any good they wanted to without regulation), and that the merchants enjoy extraterritoriality (free from prosecution from crimes.) In return, the merchants would pay the king and chiefs an annual tribute in exchange for the privileges. They would also recognize the ruler of Lixus as a king, not just a chief. Within five years, trade was soaring, merchants from far and wide were coming to Lixus, and lizardfolk villages from all over Paludia sent merchants to the town in order to buy rare, valuable goods and sell them back home at a higher price. But, in spite of all the money to be made, not all was well. The influence the merchants wielded over the king was intense, and after the construction of a sizable harbor, the outside control only became worse.
The problems came to a head when the merchants ordered the removal of the kings' eldest son as designated heir. The crown prince had wanted to reassert royal power over the economy, and the merchants couldn't tolerate this. The king had a dilemma. On one hand, he didn't want the merchants to tell him how to run the royal family, but on the other hand, the merchants provided the majority of Lixus' income through their annual tribute. Then, a shipment of cattle to Lixus was attacked and looted by some lizardfolk brigands, and the merchants who shipped the cattle wanted to be reimbursed for their losses by Lixus' king. In order to raise the money needed to pay for the lost cattle, the tax rate had to be raised. This sparked a revolt by the king's eldest son who despised the control the merchants had over Lixus. Rather than let himself be removed as heir, he overthrew his father, and cast the merchants out of the palace.
In spite of the uprising, Lixus still engaged in trade with the outside world. Eventually, the merchants were allowed back in, as long as their influence was limited to economic matters.
At present, Paludia is more open to trade and new ideas than ever before. While most of the land is very poor and isolated, a select few are becoming very rich; the gap between the rich and the poor is growing as wide as a chasm. In many towns, it used to be that the chief simply had a bigger hut and somewhat more wealth than the average tribesman. Now, chiefs who cooperate with the merchants can be reap huge sums of wealth, and increasingly live in the pattern of human nobles and lords (albeit, minor human nobles and lords.) Foreign technologies, magics, adventurers, merchants, and trade goods are all having an impact on the land.
A literacy gap is opening up as well. Very few lizardfolk know how to read or write, and yet, there is a need to keep trade records and manage the state systems which exist in the trading towns. The few lizardfolk who know how to read and write are well-situated, and can earn a good living as a scribe. Naturally, the chance to earn a good, regular salary from a regular job is unknown to most residents of Paludia (who are tribal hunters and fishers with little to no regular monetary income), and the thought of living well off of writing down symbols on a piece of parchment is totally bizarre to most lizardfolk unless it has some religious or magical significance, which in the case of these scribes, it does not. Many resent the new class of scribes as "humanized" lizardfolk who don't deserve the money they earn. Other similarly stigmatized professions include moneychangers (who seem to make money by moving coins) and bookkeepers (who seem to simply record what other people do in the market.) As of the present day, Paludia lacks a reliable system of banking, insurance, or investments, though to be fair, many lands that Paludia trades with rarely have all of these systems in place themselves.
To be certain, most of the land is still distant and cut-off from the world, but gradually, more and more of it is opening up to the outside world. One sign of this is the fact that a few adventuring parties are traveling from Paludia to other lands; sometimes, they go to hire themselves out to foreign rulers in need of inexpensive mercenaries who will fight to the death for a bit of wealth.